Our alarms went off way too early on Sunday morning – 4:30am! Neither Emily or I slept well – not even a little bit – so getting up was actually a lot easier than I expected it to be. We had parking passes from one of Emily’s friends, but the caveat was we had to be in the garage by 6am – a full hour before the race actually started. We got downtown with plenty of time to spare, so we waited in the car for a few minutes and then headed to the start.
The start and finish were in different spots, with the start over by the Quicken Loans Arena. There were about a million port-o-potties right out front and little to no lines. Score! I literally used one before anyone else did – it was like a race day miracle!
We went to our corral and stood waiting for the gun to go off. Right about 10 minutes before we crossed the start line, it started raining some pretty cold rain. Luckily, it didn’t last for all too long. The clouds cleared up and we were on our way.
Like I mentioned in my race expo post, this half marathon was Emily’s very first one. We signed up well before Thanksgiving for the race, so Emily had a great amount of time to train. I made her a 14 week training plan and she followed it to a T! She was definitely ready for this race.
With the rain came a very muggy day, especially for Cleveland. The first few miles were still pretty cool, but the day was quickly warming up. We had some pretty good cloud cover for a pretty good portion, but every time the sun came, it got hot pretty darn fast. I’m used to the heat due to our toasty Florida days, but for the runners from Ohio, they had a huge temperature swing. They had days in the 40’s and 50’s just a few days prior, so I was definitely feeling for them, my sister included!
The course kept us on the westside of the city through some really neat neighborhoods – Tremont, Ohio City, and Lakewood to name a few.
The houses were pretty neat to look at and there were some great supporters out as well.
The first 10 miles of the course were pretty flat. We really just cruised through about mile 8. This was when it really started to get hot for Em. When I asked her thoughts about slowly starting to pick it up, I got a look that I immediately knew was not in favor of a faster pace. We kept running at our same pace with a handful of walk breaks here and there. The humidity was making it hard for Em to get deep breaths, so the walk breaks were a perfect time to get oxygen back in her lungs.
The last 2-3 miles were definitely the toughest on the course. It was on the shoreway, a road that runs next to Lake Erie, which meant no cover from the elements. It was hot and humid, and there we actually multiple hills.
We really had to focus on climbing the hills and then using our momentum coming down to make up for some of the extra time. We grabbed plenty of fluids to refuel and just made our way closer and closer to the finish.
I’d say the best part of the course was the finish. We came off of the shoreway on a nice downhill, which led us right into downtown. We ran down what I’m pretty sure was Lakeside Avenue and the street was lined with people down the finisher’s chute. It really was a fun moment! Emily and I ran the whole race and finished in 2:01:09. She killed it!
Running has always been such a huge part of my life. It was such an amazing privilege to be able to experience Emily’s first half marathon with her. It seemed like she really enjoyed it and we are even talking about doing more races together! Maybe she’s hooked!
As for the Cleveland Half Marathon – I definitely recommend it. The logistics were great and I loved the course and the amenities. I would love to cross the Cleveland full marathon off my list on a couple of years too. We shall see!